ALBAY, Philippines – Fourteen mountaineers and four local guides who trekked up Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon province on Saturday, June 4, managed to descend safely following the volcano’s phreatic or steam-driven eruption on Sunday, June 5.
Gremil Nas, spokesman of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol, said the group, which included 14 hikers from Metro Manila and Calabarzon, started their ascent on the Barcelona town trail at 11 am on Saturday.
The mountaineers were on the way down on Sunday when the 17-minute eruption started at 10:37 am, forcing the group to rush their descent.
“All 14 hikers and 4 guides po ay nakababa safely (were able to descend safely). All accounted for and safe,” Nas said.
“No injury. No names given and no photos submitted,” he added.
The Sorsogon Provincial Information Office cautioned against unnecessary travel to the municipalities of Juban and Irosin, noting that volcanic ash can cause harm, especially to people with respiratory illnesses.
The municipal government of Irosin also canceled all tourism activities as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised Alert Level 1 for Bulusan Volcano, which means it is exhibiting low-level unrest.
The eruption had produced an ash plume more than a kilometer high. Bulusan’s ashfall affected the barangays of Puting Sapa, Añog, Guruyan, Catanusan, Buraburan, Bacolod, and Sangkayon in Juban, as well as Bolos in Irosin, the OCD said.
Bureau of Fire Protection personnel from different stations in Sorsogon have started clearing the ash in Juban.
The Philippine Coast Guard in Sorsogon also deployed a response team to Juban to evacuate affected families.
Elizabeth Balaguer, barangay captain of Puting Sapa, said at least 52 families or 171 people are staying at an evacuation camp in Tughan Elementary School, up from the 25 families reported on Sunday.
Balaguer expects the number of evacuees to increase. The barangay has 257 families or 944 individuals.
Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero visited the evacuees with Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office staff who handed over food packs, beddings, and hygiene kits.
Volunteers of Vice President Leni Robredo also handed out face masks in Barangay Buraburan.
On Monday morning, June 6, Phivolcs reiterated that entry into the 4-kilometer-radius permanent danger zone around Bulusan Volcano must be banned. It also called for vigilance in the 2-kilometer extended danger zone.
Civil aviation authorities in Legazpi City, Albay, issued an advisory cautioning pilots to avoid areas near the volcano but said flight operations to and from the Bicol International Airport are still normal. – Rappler.com